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Fwd: Voice Browser Packages Will Offer Hand-Off Access to Web Sites

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@staff.uiuc.edu>
Date: Mon, 28 Dec 1998 08:50:36 -0600
Message-Id: <199812281449.IAA05728@staff1.cso.uiuc.edu>
To: w3c-wai-ua@w3.org
Thought this information would be of interest to the group.

>Voice Browser Packages Will Offer Hand-Off Access to Web Sites
>From: PC Week - November 9, 1998 - page 36
>By:   Herb Bethoney
>Voice-enabled browsers offer the potential to deliver Internet information to
>a much broader audience. By offering speech access to Web pages, voice
>browsers will provide hands-free access to online information while driving a
>car, for example. 
>Web pages designed for viewing on a computer screen deliver a wealth of
>information, but attempts to simply convert a Web page into speech - via a
>text-to-speech application, for example - are laden with pitfalls. Elements
>commonly found in electronic commerce Web sites, such as forms, frames,
>diagrams and image maps, have no direct translation to speech and are not
>easily navigated via the telephone. 
>A voice browser accessible from a telephone must let users access Web links
>and fill out form fields. Although IVR (interactive voice response) systems
>have been around a long time, their menu-driven architecture doesn't lend
>itself to the nonlinear aspects of surfing the Web. 
>There are generally two approaches to bringing speech access to the Internet.
>One approach is to extend HTML using style sheets. ACSS (Aural Cascading
>Style Sheets), part of the World Wide Web Consortium's recommendation for the
>CSS 2 specification, allows a document to be displayed aurally as well as
>visually without requiring a separate Web page for each mode. ACSS is a
>specification for reading Web pages to a user but doesn't provide a way for
>developers to allow users to input speech. 
>The other approach is to create a specific markup language for rendering
>speech input as well as output on the Internet. This is the approach Motorola
>Inc. has taken with its VoxML specification. 
>But Motorola isn't the only player in the voice browser game. IBM has been
>working with visually impaired computer users for many years to design screen
>readers and provide accessibility to information technology. The result is
>IBM Home Page Reader, a voice browser designed by Chieko Asakawa, a blind
>researcher in IBM's Tokyo Research Labs. Home Page Reader, which is suitable
>for voice input as well as output, was released in Japan in October 1997. IBM
>Special Needs Systems, in Austin, Texas, is adapting it for North American
>users and is adding support for HTML 4.0. 
>Lucent Technologies Inc., of Murray Hill, NJ, is developing PhoneBrowser, a
>speech recognition product for Internet service providers. PhoneBrowser is a
>programmable platform that allows Web page authors to build IVR systems
>without using expensive IVR equipment. 
>PhoneBrowser reads Web pages to a caller via text-to-speech conversion. Users
>control PhoneBrowser's voice browser by speaking over what the browser is
>"saying," thus allowing a user to go to a specific point on a Web page
>without having to wade through seemingly endless options. 
>Siemens Corporate Research Inc.'s Liaison voice browser research effort is
>aimed at providing drivers with access to Web-based information. Liaison is
>an eyes-free and, for the most part, hands-free voice browser. Siemens, of
>Princeton, NJ, is attempting to make listening to the Web like listening to
>the radio, allowing drivers to make more productive use of their commuting
>time. In an automobile, safety is the first concern, so Liaison uses a simple
>voice navigation framework that demands minimal interaction.  
>On the academic front, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory
>for Computer Science has developed a speech system, called Jupiter, that
>provides conversational access to weather information for 500-plus cities via
>a standard telephone.
Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Voice: 217-244-5870
Fax: 217-333-0248
E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu
WWW:	http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
Received on Monday, 28 December 1998 09:49:56 UTC

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